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Yesterday’s Gone

The story of Yesterday’s Gone is also, in a way, the story of our studio.

If not for this series, there would probably be no Sterling & Stone. This serial was the start of a different kind of collaboration for me and Dave, even though we had already been working together for several years. I was starving to start telling stories away from the sales page, but without the specificity of what I knew the Yesterday’s Gone series could eventually be, my bold leap of faith would have been more like stepping off a cliff in the dark.

The decision to write Yesterday’s Gone came at one of the clearer crossroads in my life, where I turned my back on a lucrative copywriting and consulting career to embrace the roller coaster ride in pursuit of my passion.

I had launched my first information product a few weeks before starting my half of the rough draft for the Yesterday’s Gone pilot episode. After spending years building and selling similar products for other people, I was finally making one for myself.

That product was called Sales Letter Sellout, and it taught writers how to craft high-performing sales pages that would pay them enough to cover their overhead so they could work on whatever they wanted to write with the rest of their time.

It was a phenomenal product: six videos walking a budding writer through every part of the process, from researching to outlining to writing and editing, then building a landing page for the offer, all in real time. I had never seen another product like it.

But I only sold three. Not because the product wasn’t popular; the first sale came in seconds. I pulled the plug, anyway, immediately refunding the purchases after deciding that I wanted to tell stories infinitely more than I wanted to be a teacher.

I quit all client work and consulting at the height of my earning power, trading everything I had built over the last five years for the opportunity to live my dream of telling stories with Dave.

Long before the series made money, that move was thoroughly worth it.

Yesterday’s Gone was an invaluable first in many ways, cribbing what had been working so well on television for years, referring to our work in episodes and seasons instead of simply as books.

More importantly, this series gave birth to the collaborative production model our studio uses today, hundreds of books later. Yesterday’s Gone also gave birth to the serialized model Dave and I used for each of our first seven projects together. Plus, Boricio.

Boricio Wolfe is still Sterling & Stone’s most popular character to date. My son thought a kid in his kindergarten class was named Boricio instead of Mauricio. That moniker never left my head, and when I was writing my side of the pilot a year later, it seemed a perfect fit for my loquacious serial killer character.

It’s hilarious to look back all these years later and remember how much Dave thought Boricio would be a one-note villain. In so many ways he became the core of this story, as the child Luca (loosely patterned after my son at the time) slowly brought him into the light.

Readers around the world were rooting for this most unlikely antihero. As dark and depraved as Boricio behaved, it never seemed to matter. His fierce intelligence and unapologetic ID kept readers returning to see what viciously-amusing thing he might do or say next. Inhabiting his skin is always challenging yet admittedly fun. My daughter says that Boricio is my Slim Shady. Of course she’s right.

Our biggest inspirations for Yesterday’s Gone were serialized television shows like LOST, and the aesthetic we had already been developing with one another throughout our work on Available Darkness (a soul vampire series we published live on our first collective blog). But parts of that first story had been rattling around in his head since high school, while Yesterday’s Gone was a brand new sandbox for us both to play in.

We decided on a post-apocalyptic setting because we needed to make up as many of the world’s rules as possible. We planned to divide the writing duties, splitting a total of six characters between us.

Dave chose a secret agent who would also serve as an unreliable narrator, a journalist desperate to find his family, and a bullied teenager stuck with his asshole stepfather at the end of the world. I chose an eight-year-old with potentially magical powers, a group of Midwesterners from the same planned neighborhood of McMansions, and Boricio.

A decade ago I didn’t know either of our tropes, writing that out now I find the division in characters hilarious.

For the next six seasons of our series, we had a general idea of where to take the story, but true to our serialized roots, we never knew the details until we got there. We followed the narrative stars, paying closest attention to where the compasses of Luca and Boricio might lead us.

The core series works perfectly as a pair of trilogies, and the less you know going in, the better. With six finished seasons, plus the sequel trilogy, Tomorrow’s Gone, the prequel novella, October’s Gone, and several short stories starring the one and only Boricio, this series is my most significant work with Dave.

The series has been celebrated with Audie nominations for the audiobooks, handsomely produced by Podium Publishing. A long gestating followup series, Boricio’s Gone, is in the earliest stages of development.

Yesterday’s Gone reads like the love child of Stephen King’s The Stand and JJ Abrams’ LOST. Perfect for fans of dark sci-fi and serialized TV, or anyone wanting to see where our story studio got started.

The writing in this pilot is embarrassingly primitive compared to where we are now, but I’m still proud to share it with you.

If you’re in Kindle Unlimited, you can read Yesterday’s Gone for free here.